SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Jordan Morris enjoyed some redemption for the United States in the CONCACAF Gold Cup final Wednesday night.
Morris, whose poor marking allowed Jamaica to equalize, connected for the game-winner in the 88th minute to lift the Americans to a 2-1 victory to capture their sixth continental trophy before a crowd of 63,032 at Levi’s Stadium.
“It was like a dagger in the heart,” Jamaica coach Theodore Whitmore said.
The Seattle Sounders striker fired home a home a feed from 14 yards from his club teammate, second-half sub Clint Dempsey, from 14 yards.
“Those moments are important for a player,” U.S. coach Bruce Arena said about Morris. “That was a big step he took tonight. He’s going to continue to grow. He’s a player we certainly think has a future.”
The United States also earned trophies in 1991, 2002, 2005, 2007 and 2013 as coach Bruce Arena became the first coach to win three Gold Cup titles.
Jamaica suffered a devastating loss in the 23rd minute when Andre Blake, the tournament’s top goalkeeper and Golden Ball candidate (MVP), was forced from the match with an injured right hand.
In the 19th minute, U.S. striker Jozy Altidore fired a 25-yard shot that Blake knocked away with both hands. A scramble ensued as Kellyn Acosta snapped a shot that the keeper blocked again as the U.S. midfielder stepped on Blake’s right hand. The ball glanced off the right post before center back Damion Lowe cleared it out of harm’s way.
Dwayne Miller, who hadn’t played a minute in the tournament up until that point, replaced Blake, who had given up only two goals in five-plus games.
The first half essentially was a midfielder’s duel as both sides tried in vain to penetrate each other’s defense as Jamaica combined a tenacious defense and a counterattack in an effort to overcome the U.S.
After Jamaica’s Romario Williams fouled Michael Bradley, Jozy Altidore drilled a 28-yard free kick over a four-man wall and the outstretched right hand of Miller into the upper left corner in the 45th minute.
The goal forced the Jamaicans to come out of their shell and attack.
“We needed two great goals tonight to win,” Arena said.
Five minutes into the second half, Red Bulls defender Kemar Lawrence, who tallied the winning goal in Sunday’s 1-0 upset of Mexico, swung the ball to the left post. Je-Vaughn Watson beat Morris, volleying the ball past keeper Tim Howard to equalize.
Miller was magnificent, grabbing Paul Arriola’s header from the right side of the penalty area in the 63rd minute, doing his best imitation of Blake by parrying away Morris’ 18-yard attempt in the 73rd minute and swatting second-half sub Clint Dempsey’s header off the left post in the 75th minute.